Trains By Humayun Kabir
Introduction: Life is a kind of journey where a person feels excited as well as tired. The poem ‘Trains’ expresses this idea convincingly. In the poem, the poet is imaginatively engaged in observing the trains which move tediously towards their destiny without rest. He wonders where the trains come from and where they go.
About The Poet – Humayun Kabir
Humayun Kabir belongs to the pre-independence era when freedom struggle was in its full swing and a sense of revolt was sprayed in the air against the colonists. Humayun Kabir is not only recognized as a poet but also as an essayist, philosopher, administrator and parliamentarian. Apart from this, he was also a member of Sahitya Academy and the President of All India Writer’s Convention, Delhi, in 1956. He had been the Minister of Education and was actively connected with Bengal’s politics as a leader of a newly formed party.
Life and Literary Career: Humayun Kabir was born in a Bengali Muslim family in the year 1906. He graduated from Exeter College, Oxford in 1931. After his return from abroad, he took to teaching as his profession. He taught philosophy first at the Andhra University and later at Calcutta University.
Through this poem, the poet wants to say that life is a journey. Trains move tediously day and night facing different terrains. They keep moving until they reach their destination. Human beings also come across hindrances and challenges in life. But they should not give up or feel helpless. ‘The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.’
In the first stanza, the poet tells his mother that he sits by his window and enjoys watching the trains for a long time. He observes that some trains are dark and move tiresomely. Actually he sees goods trains which are without windows, doors and lamps. In fact, the goods trains carry a lot of things which make their movement slow. He compares the goods trains to huge elephants because both a herd of elephants and the wagons of goods trains are huge in size and move slowly one after the other. They move like dark figures at night. He feels that the trains get tired of running. He is not aware that they run on engines. He describes the running trains as per his perception.
In the second stanza, he mentions about a passenger train which comes at great speed with flashing lights. It has lots of windows and is well-lit too. The lamps dance and whirl with prompt movement as the train moves fast. The passenger train seems to be a wedding procession to him because it has bright lights and loud music. The shrill whistle of the train rises above the sound of the revolving wheels.
In the third stanza, the poet gives a very authentic picture of a hot afternoon when everyone goes to sleep. Not only human beings but crows and dogs also take rest in shade, yet the train marches on and on along its iron road. To stay indoors or to cool oneself in the shade is a preference for all.
In the fourth stanza, we see that sometimes at night he hears the low distant rumble of the train. He rubs his eyes and sits upon his bed and far away he sees a long train moving like a huge serpent crawling through the night.
In the fifth stanza the poet says that he has heard from his mother that trains move on their way through hills, roar over bridges, cross mighty streams, crash through forests and vast plains. He wonders at the end of their restless travelling where do they go and finally rest.
Poetic DevicesI. Simile
- Slowly they move: like huge elephants.
- Like a huge serpent crawling through the night.
- That move like shadows in the shadowy dark.
- Of the rhythmic beat of wheels revolving fast.
QUESTION AND ANSWERS
1. Why does the poet call the trains ‘tedious’?
Ans: The poet is so fascinated by the trains that he never leaves an opportunity to watch them from his window. While watching them constantly running on the iron road, he at times feels pity for them because he feels that they have been running on the rails for a long time. He seems to be so innocent and unaware of the fact that engines pull the trains ahead. He feels that their job is tedious and nerve-wracking.
2. In the middle of the night, what does the train remind the poet of and why?
Ans: When the poet hears the distant rumbling sound of the train in the middle of the night, then he compares it to a huge serpent that loves to crawl in the darkness of the night so that no one comes to know of its presence. Similarly, the trains too quietly rumble through the area, beneath the light of the flickering moon.
3. The poem ends with a question. Why do you think this question troubles or puzzles the poet?
Ans: The poet seems to be quite inquisitive to know the whereabouts of the trains. He compares them to human beings and wonders about their tedious nature of work. He seems to be clueless about their final resting place and so questions his mother to address his confusion, inquiring about their place of relaxation. Hence the poem ends in a question.
Frame answers of your own to the questions given below. Use the clues to frame them.
4. How do we come to know that the poet is referring to a goods train in the poem?
Clues: long-dark and tiresome journey-no doors- no windows-no shining lamps-move in the dark like elephants.
5. The heat during the summer deranges everyone in the earth? Explain.
Clues: everyone prefers to sleep-they feel dizzy and tired due to excessive heat-even the crows forget to caw-the dogs lie under the shade, wagging their tongues-to stay indoors or to cool oneself under the shade is a preference for all.
‘No doors, no windows, no shining lamps.
Slowly they move: like huge elephants.
a) Name the poem and the poet.
Ans: The name of the poem is ‘Trains’ and the poet is Humayun Kabir.
b) What is the poet talking about in the above lines?
Ans: The poet is talking about the goods trains passing by while sitting near his window.
c) Identify the poetic device in the line, ‘Slowly they move: like huge elephants?
Ans: Simile – like huge elephants
‘Sometimes at night in my sleep I hear…..’
a) Who is referred to as ‘I’ in the above line.
Ans: ‘I’ is referred to the poet in the above line.
b) What does he hear during the night?
Ans: He hears a low distant rumbling sound of a train passing far away from his house.
c) What does the poet do when he hears the rumbling sound?
Ans: He immediately rubs his eyes and sits upon the bed to have a look at the long shadowy outline moving under the flickering moonlight.